Mr. Right-Click thinks I’ve become overly concerned with reading about psychopaths.
But I can’t help it. I find psychopaths to be just so interesting — you know, from a safe distance.
My latest reading stint on psychopaths started with reading that Columbine book that everybody has been talking about. But then I finished that and I moved on to this other book, Snakes in Suits, which is about nonviolent psychopaths in the workplace. See, I’m not really all that interested in reading about the Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy brand of psychopath. I mean, I used to be interested in them when I was younger, a little bit, but now I’m kind of bored by them. Everybody knows those guys are psychopaths because they do things like kill people and eat them, and because Jane’s Addiction writes songs about them.
Nonviolent psychopaths, though, those are the really scary ones, if you ask me.
For one thing, they are all over the place. The Sociopath Next Door claims there’s at least one person in twenty in regular society who is operating without a conscience. Other sources argue that it’s not possible to go a full day without interacting with at least one psychopath. (The terms sociopath/psychopath are sometimes used interchangeably, but there are specific diagnostic differences between the two things. As a overly simplified rule, I’m saying that both sociopaths and psycopaths are people who — whether by nature or as a product of the company they keep — behave as though they have no conscience.) It’s not that a psychopath doesn’t understand intellectually the difference between right and wrong, either. They are not usually stupid, psycopaths, though wow, stupid psychopaths — that is a reality show somebody needs to pitch to VH-1 — they usually can understand the difference between right and wrong, they just don’t care about it emotionally. I mean, can you imagine? Do you see how revolutionary this is, if you just accept its truth? So many fucked up things about the world that have puzzled us for eons can be instantly explained by this one thing: that there are people, more than you realize, who live their lives without having to consult a conscience about anything they do.
It’s freeing for me, personally, to see this. It explains things like . . . Enron, or Bernie Madoff, or the psychology of all investment bankers (just kidding, Monkey!). What an advantage these people must have over their business counterparts, never having to worry about whether or not they are good people, or whether or not their business practices are morally reprehensible. And since they are able to blend so well into regular society, the nonviolent psychopaths are pretty much invisible to most people in the world. What’s more is, their ability to mimic the behavior of normal conscience-burdened people is so convincing that you can ask somebody, “Hey, have you ever wondered if so-and-so is a psychopath?” and they’ll be like, “No, not so-and-so! So-and-so is a totally cool cat.” They’re so good at blending in that most people will steadfastly deny the suggestion that somebody is a psychopath, even when there is ample evidence to the contrary. Even the ones that are not as smooth, who cannot sweet talk people as well as others, manage to make a life for themselves by relying on threats, coercion, and intimidation to dominate others and get what they want.
If one in twenty is one . . . well, I have at least twenty readers by now. So which one of you is it? Don’t make me come out there and find the body parts in your freezer.
In non-psychopathic news, the first featured blogger ad is up and running! Please check out CrashTestMommy’s ad in the sidebar, and visit her blog ASAP! Thanks to Jenny for being the first experimental guinea pig in our brave new monetizing world.